The Varuna was the third of three very similar steam yachts designed by the great G.L. Watson of Glasgow, the others being Mayflower and Nahma. Ordered for a wealthy American, Eugene Higgins of New York, Varuna was built of steel by A. & J. Inglis at Glasgow in 1897. Registered at 1,573 tons gross (595 net), she measured 273 feet in length with a 35 foot beam and was rigged as a twin-screw schooner. Powered by a pair of her builder's own triple-expansion 8-cylinder engines, she could make 16 knots under steam and carried sails by Ratsey. Unfamiliar in American waters as Mr. Higgins spent most of his time in Europe, she was wrecked on the Azores in 1909.